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Led Zepplin (sic) scores In New York Opening


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Led Zepplin (sic) scores In New York opening

Lowell Sun, Lowell, MA, June 19, 1977

by John Rockwell New York Times

NEW YORK — Even though millions of young people have managed to acquire it, Led Zeppelin remains an acquired taste. The British rock quartet, which has opened a run of six long-slnce sold-

out shows at Madison Square Garden makes a monstrously loud, deliberately abrasive kind of music far removed not only from the sweet rustlings of classical music, Jazz and Tin Pan Alley, but even from the tuneful, rhythmically enlivening rock songs of the 1960s.

That said, this was the best Led Zeppelin show this observer ever has heard, and that includes the sound track from the group's recent concert film. It certainly was superior to the 1975 Garden

shows, the last the band had given In New York. That time guitarist Jimmy Page had an injured finger. Since then Led Zeppelin has been off the road waiting for the singer Robert Plant to recover first from an auto accident and then a throat infection.

This tour amounts to a reassertion of the bands pre-eminence. In the fickle youth market of America and on its own terms the show I heard certainly was a triumphant reassertion. It lasted three hours and included some 18 songs, depending on how you count — a Led Zeppelin "song" often is an excuse for a meandering instrumental that sucks. In all sorts of extraneous material it goes along, and sometimes changes subtly into something altogether different. The repertory on Tuesday

included much that was predictable, from "The Song Remains the Same" to "Stairway to Heaven" by way of "In My Time of Dying" (dedicated somewhat wickedly to Queen Elizabeth II and her Silver Jubilee); "The Battle of Evermore" also was dedicated to the British monarch, "No Quarter", "Kashmir," "Achilles Last Stand" and others. But there also was an acoustic set that lightened the heavy-metal load.

The mood of the Garden concert, offstage and on, seemed fresher and less hostile than some Led Zeppelin concerts and crowds of yore. The audience waited more or less docilely for 70 minutes past the scheduled starting time before the band appeared. When it did so, the mood of the musicians was good-natured and almost puckish. Plant laudably and earnestly attempted to discourage the hurling of firecrackers and cherry bombs.

Quite apart from its sheer massiveness and its mood, this was a first-class Led Zeppelin

performance on several objective criteria. Plant's voice sounded fresh throughout, but especially

during the acoustic portion, in "Going to California." And it was aided by a whole battery of echo and filter effects. Similarly Page's guitar playing, always concerned with coloristic exploration, was positively kaleidoscopic in that respect. And his work along with everybody else's was projected forcefully and clearly by the sound system

The other two held up their ends, too. John Paul Jones may not be the most riveting instrumentalist in rock, but he is a skillful, versatile bass player, keyboard player and guitarist. And while John Bonham's drumming was hardly subtle or clever, it had at least the virtues of powerhouse energy. His 20-minute solo was certainly too long, but It had its momentum, particularly in a flashy syntheslzed-drum effect toward the end.

And there was a fair bit of flash in the visuals, too, although not as much as one might have expected or hoped for from a band of Led Zeppelin's reputation. There were two laser displays, the second

in particular (a pyramid or tent-like structure around Page as he sawed away on his guitar with a bow) worth seeing. But neither erased memories of the best laser shows in rock, and the remaining assortment of movable drum stands, smoke and flash bombs, mirror-balls and the like was nothing


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